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England squad reconnects with fans with image makeover

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VOLGOGRAD, England (AP) — Whatever happens to England at the World Cup, at least the reception facing the squad should be less brutal than it was in 2014 after its exit following the group stage.’

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For once, the players can’t be accused of hiding away, retreating behind their headphones. The hallmark of England’s preparations for Russia has been shedding the past reticence to engage with the public, a calculated move by the team leadership to reconnect with a public disaffected by years of failure at tournaments and uninspiring performances.

“They appear more relaxed. They appear more normal,” supporter Gavin Hughes said, overlooking the Volgograd Arena where England opens its World Cup campaign against Tunisia on Monday. “They appear human. They are just lads playing football at the end of the day. That’s been the problem in the past. There’s more of a togetherness.”

A defining clip of the 2010 World Cup was Wayne Rooney bellowing down the barrel of a camera after a 0-0 draw with Algeria: “Nice to see your home fans booing you, that’s what loyal support is.”

That disconnect with the public has been bridged by the 23-man squad facing the media in a 45-minute, Super Bowl-style session before leaving for Russia. The English Football Association’s approach is in a marked contrast to club duty where they are largely closeted away, save for appearances with paying broadcasters or often in controlled appearances.

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“We’ve done a lot for the fans on social media so they can see what we are up to, which has not always been the case,” captain Harry Kane said Sunday. “It’s important while we have free time is to try to let the fans know what we are up to.”

The public is seeing a new side of the players. Not only are they more relatable but painted in a more sympathetic light, beyond the caricatures of millionaire mercenaries just chasing more money.

“That connection with the supporters is really important,” coach Gareth Southgate said. “There have been perceptions about our players for a long time … so it’s been really good for our public to see how much it means to the players to play, to see a different side of their personality.”

In a move unthinkable in years gone by, when a since-departed FA official blocked Rooney talking about his Christianity, defender Danny Rose recently opened up on his problems dealing with depression. Publicly praised by Prince William for raising awareness of health issues, Rose realizes how players can use their new platform to show their human side and inspire others.

“A lot of people messaged me to say thank you, that they know someone who is going through this or has been through that and that I’ve helped them and given them the confidence to express themselves,” Rose said. “We have a lot of down time and I’m going to think of something to help others when I get back. I’ve got time to think while I’m here and when I get back from the World Cup about how I can go forward and help people.”

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It’s not just about the players feeding a voracious traveling media pack with material. Kieran Trippier, who is also Rose’s club teammate at Tottenham, told the left back he appeared no longer burdened by a private plight in England’s last World Cup warm-up game.

“I was playing with a bit of freedom,” Rose said of the victory against Costa Rica. “I think he’s got a point.”

Southgate is credited with encouraging the warmer environment, far removed from the controlling regimes under Fabio Capello and Gary Neville, who was Roy Hodgson’s assistant for the dismal 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championship last-16 humbling to Iceland. A bemusing, running theme in the British papers at Euro 2016 in France was the players’ refusal to divulge any details of a darts tournament. The squad has been overhauled by Southgate and it has even been playing darts with the media at the World Cup base near St. Petersburg.

Southgate has been playing his part, going to fan forums in the buildup to the tournament to recognize the commitment and cost involved watching England abroad.

“Sometimes those really good people who follow us are overlooked at the expense of some who have caused problems in the past,” Southgate said.

Ultimately, results dictate the public mood and England hasn’t won a knockout game at any tournament since 2006.

“It’s about how we perform,” Southgate said, “but there’s a bigger picture.”

Spurs’ Rose admits to depression diagnosis during tough season

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Tottenham Hotspur and England fullback Danny Rose has disclosed a diagnosis of depression stemming from a number of issues this season.

Rose, 27, was subject of transfer talk last offseason before a knee injury cost him most of his on-field campaign.

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In the middle of the grueling rehab process, Rose says his uncle committed suicide, his brother was nearly attacked, and his mother racially abused.

On top of that, he was diagnosed and did not want to worry his family. He admits that his parents might not hear it from him until they read it in the news. From the BBC:

“It’s no secret that I’ve been through a testing time at Tottenham this season,” said Rose. “It led to me seeing a psychologist and I was diagnosed with depression, which nobody knows about. … I haven’t told my mum or my dad, and they are probably going to be really angry reading this, but I’ve kept it to myself until now.”

“I was getting very angry, very easily,” he said. “I didn’t want to go into football, I didn’t want to do my rehab.”

Rose also said he told his family not to go to the World Cup in Russia because he feared for their safety given significant racial concerns in the host nation.

“It’s really sad,” Rose said. “It’s just how it is. Somehow Russia got the World Cup and we have to get on with it.”

Hopefully the full back gets a positive turn for country and then club after a trying year. More importantly, if you’re suffering or diagnosed with depression, don’t leave those who care about you in the dark. Everyone wants to help.

Transfer rumor roundup: Man United plans Joe Hart move and more

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Pro Soccer Talk takes a glance at some of the biggest transfer rumors on Sunday…

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We start in Manchester, where the Red Devils are reportedly interested in raiding their cross-town rivals for a back-up goalkeeper.

Man United is said to have interest in Manchester City’s Joe Hart, who missed out on being called up to England for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Hart has spent the last two seasons on loan from the Citizens, spending 2016/17 in Serie A with Torino and this past season with West Ham United.


Sticking with United, the Red Devils are preparing a new contract for Anthony Martial, according to the Sun.

Martial has become a regular for United since joining from Monaco in 2015, scoring 36 goals in all competitions.


Finally, Danny Rose could be making a Merseyside move if Everton has it their way.

The Toffees are eyeing up the Tottenham left back, although Manchester United has also expressed its interest in the England international.

Rose missed a significant portion of the 2017/18 season due to a knee injury, and the 27-year-old could be on the move this summer despite spending the last 11 seasons in London with Spurs.

Report: Man United to target Rose, other full backs this summer

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Jose Mourinho has identified perhaps the most underrated position on the pitch as a place he needs to upgrade his squad this summer.

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According to a report from The Guardian, the Manchester United manager is looking to sign Tottenham wing back Danny Rose and potentially another full back in the summer transfer window. With Luke Shaw likely to leave the club, Mourinho is left with incumbents left back Ashley Young and right back Antonio Valencia, both on the wrong side of 30-years old and both converted wingers playing out-of-position.

Mourinho last December decried crosstown rivals Man City for spending more than $140 million to sign wing backs Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker last summer. Though Mendy missed most of the season with a torn ACL, Walker and fellow outside back Danilo helped give Man City’s attack another dimension out wide, as the wing backs in the 3-4-3 or Man City’s 4-1-4-1 with Fernandinho dropping back into the centerback pairing become ever more important.

Rose has had a contentious last 18-months or so at Tottenham and could be looking to leave this summer. But it will likely take a bid north of $75 million, around what it cost Man City to sign Walker last summer, to buy Rose out of his Tottenham contract.

Matteo Darmian meanwhile, another potential outside back for Man United, could also be departing the club this summer, as Man United looks to replenish its side.

Report: Danny Rose suffers injury setback

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Danny Rose can’t catch a break.

The Tottenham Hotspur and England left back was not in the Spurs squad for their trip to Swansea City on Tuesday (they won 2-0 in the rain in South Wales) and it appears he may not feature anytime soon.

Rose, 27, was out for nine months with a knee injury and only returned to action in October following an operation to fix the problem, but ESPN is reporting that the attacking full back has suffered a recurrence of the same issue.

Per the report, Rose will undergo further tests in the next few days and isn’t expected to play against West Ham on Thursday or in the FA Cup clash with AFC Wimbledon on Sunday.

Tottenham have Ben Davies at left back, while Jan Vertonghen can also play there if needed, but Rose’s absence will be a big blow for Mauricio Pochettino.

This news also places some doubt into the mind of Manchester United, and others, who have been linked with a transfer move for Rose in January or the summer, especially following his explosive comments in the summer about Tottenham’s transfer dealings and wage budgets.

Cynics out there would say it is quite timely for Rose to have a flare up of his previous knee injury just as the January transfer window opens, but it does seem to be more simple than that as the England international battles a long-term issue.

In his prime, it appears Rose just can’t shake off his persistent knee problems.